Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Risk Factors for Menstrual Disorders

A risk factor is something that raises your chances of getting a disease or health problem.

You can get a menstrual disorder with or without the factors below. But the more factors you have, the greater your chances of getting a one. If you have many, ask your doctor what you can do to lower your risk.

Menorrhagia (Heavy Bleeding)

Most women have heavy bleeding at some point during their reproductive years. Risk factors for menorrhagia are:

Obesity

High body fat raises your risk. Hormones in fat tissues can turn into estrogen. When this happens, the endometrial lining thickens, causing heavier bleeding.

Health Problems

You may be at higher risk if you have one of these gynocological problems:

You may be at higher risk if you have one of these health problems:

Age

Young Women

Just after periods begin, teens may have:

  • Too many periods close together
  • Periods spaced further apart
  • Amenorrhea

These changes happen because the reproductive system is maturing.

Older Women

If you are nearing menopause, you may have heavier periods. Women who have periods at an older age than average may also be at risk for heavy bleeding.

Birth Control

If you use a copper intrauterine device (IUD), you are slightly more likely to have heavy periods. IUDs with progestin (such as Mirena) are more likely to lower menstrual bleeding.

In most women, birth control pills lower menstrual bleeding. If you have heavy bleeding while taking the pill, tell your doctor.

Medicines

Some drugs like blood thinning drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines, and cancer drugs can raise your risk of heavy bleeding.

Imbalances of Hormones and Other Body Chemicals

Some women have imbalances in estrogen and progesterone that can cause them to skip periods. There may be overgrowth of the lining of the womb. This can lead to heavy bleeding when menstruation returns.

Amenorrhea (Lack of Menstruation)

Risks for amenorrhea are:

Too Much Exercise

If you exercise strenuously, you may be at risk for primary or secondary amenorrhea. Female athletes who do ballet, gymnastics, rowing, long-distance running, and cycling are at risk.

Eating Disorders

Having an eating disorder puts you at risk. This may be due to poor eating habits, low body fat, rapid weight loss, and hormonal and mental health problems.

Stress

You may skip periods if you are going through life changes, or having problems with work, school, or relationships. A change in setting, such as moving, can also cause you to miss periods. Stress can stop the brain from sending signals to the ovaries. When stress is eased, periods often return.

Health Problems

In most women, amenorrhea does not mean that you have a serious problem. But, in some women it may be from:

Stopping a Birth Control Method

If you have recently stopped taking birth control pills or stopped using another type of birth control (such as an IUD), you may not have a period for up to several months.

REFERENCES:

Abnormal uterine bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T361089/Abnormal-uterine-bleeding. Updated August 24, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.

Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116009/Amenorrhea. Updated January 16, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.

Klein DA, Poth MA. Amenorrhea: an approach to diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Jun 1;87(11):781-788.

Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html. Updated April 25, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG  Last Updated: 10/29/2018